Candice/Candida, One Year Later

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Like her ashes that were distributed to loved ones, cherished and planted far and wide, one year after her death on September 7, 2015, the legacy of Candice Vadala aka Candida Royalle continues to grow and pay homage to her life and her art. Her papers have been acquired by the Schlesinger Library of Women’s Lives, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.The Schlesinger has also acquired the papers of Candice’s Club 90 sister, adult performer and free speech champion Gloria Leonard.

Candice left a meticulously documented archive which she entrusted to me. Her papers are both personal and professional and from them we learn not only of Candice’s life, but of her early women’s activism, the colorful 70’s trippy San Francisco performance scene, the  growth of adult media, the sexology movement, and the inception of the feminist erotic/porn genre which Candida Royalle pioneered. This archive will be used at Harvard in classes beginning  this fall and by early 2018 the Vadala/Royalle archive will be digitized and available online and in person to researchers and scholars.

How many of you know of Candice and her Tomato Song? It didn’t take much coaxing for her to sing this little ditty a capella. Candice wrote her Tomato Song in the 70’s during the time she performed with members of the Cockettes and the The Angels of Light. She made her own tomato outfit and used the song in her very  first solo performance. This was a turning point in her life because she realized how much she loved to perform. Now, the Tomato Song as well as her collaborations with composer Patrick Cowley collectively titled “Candida Cosmica” will be released by Josh Cheon and others of Honey Sound System and Dark Entries Records. A release party will take place in San Francisco at The Magazine, 920 Larkin Street, on October 15, 2016, Candice’s birthday. Candice’s sister Cinthea and friends Theresa McGinley and Jorge Socarras, all of whom were participants in that era, will be there to celebrate. The New York party will be held on October 19. (location tba). A recent article in the New York Times referred to Patrick Cowley as a “disco innovator” and made special mention of Candida and the Tomato Song which was described as “tellingly absurd.”

Thanks to the diligence of Candice’s dear friend and attorney, Mary D. Dorman her affairs were left in order, her final wishes are being followed. As Candice’s executor, I am so grateful for Mary’s wise counsel. Candice named a “cat committee” that consisted of dear friends Barbara Carrellas and Suzanne Delauney, who was also her former assistant.Her beloved cats: Jack, Baxter and Niles have new homes. Jack and Niles are with Candice’s cousins Alana and Char, respectively. Baxter lives in North Carolina with Larry Trepel’s brother Jeff and Larry visits often. The original Femme movies are entrusted to our Club 90 sister Jane Hamilton aka Veronica Hart and Club 90 sister Annie Sprinkle is entrusted with Candice’s book, How To Tell A Naked Man What To Do.

In 2006 Candice purchased her beautiful home in Mattituck, on the North Shore of Long Island. The area has become famous for its many vineyards, and also for the farm stands that offer the most delicious  vegetables, fruits, pies, eggs. Fresh fish abound. I referred to Candice’s home as her “garden of eden.” It is where we all ate well, where she tended her rich, wild garden, fed the birds and wrote letters to the editor in support of the wildlife.It is where “the little tomato” flourished. That house is now for sale, supervised by realtor JoAnn Wind who originally found the house for Candice. Michele Capozzi Candice’s “little Italian bro”  and I just returned from that house. Candice filled my thoughts as I swam in the Long Island Sound, remembering our many beach outings, missing her so much, but grateful to that house which made her final days so peaceful and I think even extended her life. Candice had confided to me and others how she envisioned herself, silver haired, at the end of her life, sitting alone  in the middle of a lush forest, until she simply disappeared. Candice’s physical life ended in her garden of eden, but hers was a big life and only one part was physical. The spirit of Candice Vadala/Candida Royalle, her art and her vision live on to influence and inspire.

Candice’s Ashes

made a soft crunching sound
as I sprinkled them
on the frozen December leaves
at the base of the Japanese maple
that blazed bright red
in the autumn.
(Red was Candice’s favorite color.)
They’re not as coarse
as you might imagine,
the essence of a human being,
the grains that remain
after cremation,
somewhere between
the texture of sand
and talcum powder,
dove gray in color.

Strange,
how a person
is reduced to this—
specks of matter
in a glass vial,
with no indication
of the spark
that was always in their eyes,
of the grace
they carried themselves with
through this world,
even at the very end
when cancer had left
almost nothing behind,
just the shell of a body
and pain.

A chorus of birds
sang
as I carefully fitted the cork cap
back onto the vial.
Candice loved the birds—
she fed them, left water for them,
every day at her home that was perched
on the North Fork of Long Island.
And although she’d never been
to this special blue house
nestled among tall evergreens
in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains,
I think she would have liked it here.

It seemed a fitting place
to leave her essence,
the same stuff that the stars are made of.
It seemed right
and good
that the birds
sang farewell to Candice
today
and mourned her loss
with me
as I sprinkled her ashes
in the cool, damp earth.

Cathy Brown

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About veronicavera

Veronica Vera’s: Author, educator, Doctor of Human Sexuality. VV's multi-faceted career began with several years on Wall Street. Then she decided to earn an honest living as a sex journalist, porn star, erotic model, prostitutes’ rights activist. Her collaborations with artists include Robert Mapplethorpe. Veronica testified in Washington for freedom of expression. In 1992 she created the world’s first crossdressing academy, Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls and wrote the book of the same name. Her second book is Miss Vera’s Crossdress for Success. She continues to offer classes in higher heeled education at her NY academy and college campuses, fields offers from reality show producers and works on her memoir.
This entry was posted in Candida Royalle, Club 90, Feminist Porn. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Candice/Candida, One Year Later

  1. This is so beautiful and moving, V. Thank you so much for posting this and for including my poem. I’m honored and humbled.

  2. Thank you, Cathy. Your poem is lovely. I scattered my portion of her ashes in May in the courtyard of my Adirondack house, where there is a big bed of Lilies of the Valley. They were among her favourite flowers. Right afterwards, there was a gentle light rain which washed them into the ground.

  3. Howie Gordon says:

    Thank-you Veronica and Cathy. As long as we have memories, there is no good-bye. xo, Howie

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